Coronavirus: Dad's wise words keep Hadi going

Singaporean golfer Abdul Hadi Uda Thith at February's Journey to Jordan 1 tournament. He has competed in just three events this year, after the coronavirus pandemic caused events to be cancelled. PHOTO: MENA TOUR
Singaporean golfer Abdul Hadi Uda Thith at February's Journey to Jordan 1 tournament. He has competed in just three events this year, after the coronavirus pandemic caused events to be cancelled. PHOTO: MENA TOUR

The sporting world is at a standstill, reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For athletes, this year will see Olympic dreams halted, professional careers reassessed and new obstacles to overcome. In this four-part series, The Straits Times looks at how Singaporean athletes cope with these unusual times on different fronts.

Thirteen years ago, Abdul Hadi Uda Thith's father spoke to him about pursuing a golf career just as he was about to enrol at the Singapore Sports School.

"I told him there will be more downs than ups and it's about having the mental fortitude to deal with it as best as you can," said Uda, 52.

Those words of wisdom will serve Hadi well now, for the 25-year-old professional golfer has seen his season in disarray due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of his second year on tour, he had set two goals: Win a tournament and get a spot on either the Asian Tour or Japan Golf Tour.

But he is now "preparing for the worst" - the possibility that there would be no tournaments this year.

But, though his income and possibly progress in golf will take a hit this year, Hadi remains optimistic.

Aside from his father's advice, his positivity stems from his year as a rookie pro, which helped build character and resilience as he had to cope with disappointment when he did not perform as well as expected.

He told The Sunday Times: "Of course (Covid-19) is a setback ... But you can look at it as a chance to take a bigger step back, analyse your game and set a training plan for the next few months to see what weak areas you need to work on."

Before the circuit breaker measures started on Tuesday, he had been practising at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club at least six times a week to ensure that he would be ready to compete once tournaments resume.

But, with sports and recreation facilities - including golf courses - closed till May 4, the Singaporean has been feeling "a bit stuck".

"It's definitely a bit frustrating but there's nothing much we can do, so I'm just looking forward till the circuit breaker is over and I can get back to practising," he added.

Hadi, who turned professional in October 2018, played 24 events last year, with 13 on the PGA Tour Series-China. This term, he has competed just three times - at the SMBC Singapore Open and two Middle East and North Africa Tour events.

Now subsisting on his 2019 and 2020 tournament earnings of about US$15,000 (S$21,200) and US$2,000 respectively, he has had to be more prudent with his spending. But he noted that his golf-related expenses are covered via a sponsorship from Peter Fu of Kuo Group.

Uda, an office manager, added: "As more and more tournaments got cancelled, we discussed how it would affect his income stream and we were concerned about how he would manage his expenses.

"We are still able to support him and luckily his training expenses are covered, so that helps."

The father-and-son duo can also count on veteran golfer and family friend Mardan Mamat for advice.

Mardan, 52, told ST: "I told his dad he needs to have a lot of patience in this game. We don't know when it (success) will come, so just keep doing good things and one day it will come."

While Uda's main concern is whether his only son - he has three daughters aged 23, 20 and 18 - can regain his form in time when the season resumes, Hadi is confident of being able to quickly shake off any rust when the competition resumes.

He has been working out and practising shadow swings in between watching Netflix while stuck at home.

Hadi, who was travelling for 30 weeks last year, said: "I'm not too worried about being off-form as I know that after the circuit breaker is over, we'll still have a few more months before the tournament season starts again and there will be enough time to prepare.

"You just have to make the best out of it... it again goes back to having a plan, sticking to your routine and to just keep going no matter what setbacks you face."

Correction note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Peter Fu's name. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 12, 2020, with the headline 'Dad's wise words keep Hadi going'. Print Edition | Subscribe